Lee wants new command center at Samsung

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Lee wants new command center at Samsung

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is planning to establish a new decision-making body for all of the company’s affiliates. The new unit would replace Samsung’s former Future Strategy Office, which was disbanded in February after being implicated in the scandal that led to the removal of former president Park Geun-hye.

“We need a central decision-making unit that can craft management strategies [for Samsung] and adjust tasks between affiliates,” a high-level executive from Samsung told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday. “But Vice Chairman Lee is determined that the new unit will not be a mere miniature of the former Future Strategy Office.”

The source declined to be named, but is one of the people from Samsung that most frequently visits Lee.

“Lee’s description of the former Future Strategy Office can be translated into an organization that gives top-down orders but does not take responsibility,” the source added.

Samsung’s notoriously secretive and powerful office was blamed for organizing donations in exchange for political favors when Park was president. That has led to corruption prosecutions for both her and Lee.

As the office’s role in the scandal became clearer, Lee abolished the controversial office, which used to handle Samsung Electronics’ key management decisions including human resources management, advertising, public relations and government relations.

Lee is currently appealing an August conviction and sentence of five years in prison for bribery. With members of the founding Lee family absent from management, major decisions on investments and internal reforms have been put on hold.

“Lee figured the only way to fill the current leadership vacuum is to create a new system,” the source said.

Details about the new central command center are scant. But it is expected to perform minimal outside tasks such as dealing with government officials and focus instead on handling internal matters.

Samsung is preparing for major changes as Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman and CEO Kwon Oh-hyun, who led the company’s lucrative semiconductor business, announced his resignation last Friday. Kwon was acting head of the company while Lee was detained. A major executive reshuffle is now anticipated.

“It will be the first reshuffle reflecting management insights from Vice Chairman Lee,” the source said.

BY PARK TAE-HEE, KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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